ANIMAL charities are calling for airgun licensing to make it harder for yobs to shoot pets and wildlife.

New figures reveal the RSPCA received 23 reports of animals being shot across Essex last year.

Kate Theobold, 40, veterinary nurse at South Essex Wildlife Hospital in Orsett said: “We see more big birds such as herons and birds of prey that are shot.

“We agree something needs to be done about it.

“Sometime we have no choice but to euthanise the animals.”

Dermot Murphy, RSPCA chief inspectorate officer said: “During last year alone, we received 767 reports of attacks where air guns were used on animals across England and Wales.

“Animals are suffering horrendous injuries and often dying as a result of airgun attacks and these weapons are also potentially extremely dangerous for people.

“Every one of the 258 pet cats and 73 dogs deliberately killed or maimed last year by people using air guns represents a devastated family.”

As well as mandatory licensing, the RSPCA is calling for a range of measures to tackle the problem of air guns.

Earlier this year cruel animal torturers shot a pet cat with an air gun.

Staff at Medivet on Canvey were shocked when the small cat was brought to them, with an airgun shot wound having been shot in Gwendalen Avenue.

X-rays showed an airgun pellet was lodged inside the animal.

Residents who have helped with similar incidents joined calls for more legislation.

Tommy Walton, 50, of Fairfax Drive, Westcliff said he helped an owner after their cat was shot.

He said: “It was awful and I’ve never seen anything like it.

“It happened in my road and I ran over and found it and the owner then came to take it away to the vets.

“I agree something is needed to be done soon about this issue.

“The cat owner was so upset when it happened, it was so sad to see. These disgusting yobs don’t seem to understand the impact their actions have on families.

“The woman, who I didn’t know, was crying as she collected the cat.

“I just hope it survived and recovered.”

Most air guns are not currently licensed.